testata inforMARE
6 ottobre 2022 - Anno XXVI
Quotidiano indipendente di economia e politica dei trasporti
02:14 GMT+2
FORUM dello Shipping
e della Logistica


The consolidation of tonnage and the general recovery of the petrochemical industry, where the majority of this segment is mainly dedicated, generated a substantial strengthening of freight rates, badly needed by a few owners after two years of poor results.

Thanks to a shortage of products in most industrial areas (mainly Europe) and the availability of competitive product from Asia, long-haul ethylene voyages from South East Asia and Korea to West options were possible, and propylene movements from the USA and South America to Europe became more regular. Such longer trips put some pressure on ship's availability.

Butadiene / C4 transatlantic moved up to $130 per mt by the third quarter and then fell slightly over the last quarter. The ethylene market was as usual affected by the product demand created by plant outages and scheduled turnarounds in Europe.

Some signs of slowing down were however observed during the fourth quarter, when increased idle times and prompt availability of tonnage arose.

One should also note the Navigator 22,000 cbm ships delivered during 2000 have now all finished their trading on LPG short-term time charters in the East and West of Suez, with the exception of a single ethylene trip from South East Asia to Europe.

10 ships were reported ordered in this sector, among which :

  • four ethylene carriers 8,200 / 8,400 cbm at Chinese yard by Norwegian owners,
  • one 8,600 cbm semi-ref type ex-Japanese yard by Japanese owners,
  • two ethylene 9,000 cbm ex-Italian yard by Italian owners,
  • one fully-ref 22,000 cbm ex-Korea, and
  • two semi-ref 22,500 cbm ex-Japan by Naftomar.



5,600 cum, blt 1999 by Kodja Bahari - Owned by Gaschem Pool, Hamburg

Although not as affected by concentration as the larger tonnage categories, this segment was fairly active, and a firm upward trend was observed until September. Depending on vessel size and specifications, the average increase of freight earnings can be assessed at around 20 % over last year earnings, 15 % for small pressure-type vessels and up to 30 % for some large semi-ref type ships.

Petrochemical activity represented a good share in this upturn, with additional production coming from Asia at competitive prices and shortage of products in Europe. However, despite the advent of winter months in the Northern hemisphere, signs of stability or even a weakening appeared as from mid September, due to :

  • LPG prices reaching uncompetitive levels to be used as feedstock.,
  • abnormally warm temperatures for the season,
  • slowdown of demand for petrochemical products.

Considering that we seem to be entering a late mild winter and that the shipping market is not far from being balanced, it might take very little to see a possible reverse trend.

As stated before, the newbuilding activity has been rather limited in this segment except for several 4,100 to 7,500 cbm pressure-type vessels contracted by Japanese owners and fixed to LPG traders on long-term time charter periods, mostly intended to trade in LPG markets.

lpg tc 3-20000 cbm

lpg spot



At the dawn of year 2001, with some signs of weakening in demand and product prices and the slowdown in the U.S. growth and its possible side effects, we dare to say that the gas industry as a whole, both on the producer and perhaps more on the shipowning side, has shown clear signs of wisdom over these past twelve months ! Why ?

Despite a high degree of volatility, most players have been very cautious in taking new positions or starting new investments, always attempting not to disrupt too quickly the overall balance of the markets.

We have seen some commodities prices going up by more than 200 % whilst the main freight increases have, on average, hardly risen over 35%. This clearly shows that the upturn of the market was, in general, more beneficial to the product than to the ship in terms of earnings.

Compared to the levels recently achieved on the oil tanker market, where increases sometimes exceeding 500 % occurred within a much wider and less consolidated market, there are some reasons to be satisfied with the proportionally more limited variations observed in the LPG markets !

Growing too fast may mean problems for the year ahead. Obviously such an attitude does not mean that owners refuse to make higher profits, but may be attributed to a more reasoned calculation between huge immediate profits as against lower but steady long-term returns.

Limited scrapping, often due to ongoing debts still outstanding on older tonnage, and a controlled pace for new building have also contributed to avoid an excess of over-capacity of tonnage.

Considering the high degree of concentration of the fleet and industry mergers which came into effect last year, and its limited impact observed in 2000, we have every reason to believe that the LPG industry is moving in a mature and sound direction.

Let it be the same venue for 2001 !

6,500 cum prs, blt 1995 by Asakawa - Owned by Marathon Shipping, on long term charter to Naftomar Shipping and Trading, Athens


The LPG carriers second-hand market


  • VLGC over 70,000 cbm

The only sale reported in this category during the year was the 'World Rainbow' 70,000 cbm 1971-built, sold to Naftomar at auction in Korea for US$ 2.6 million.

  • Large LPG carriers between 50,000 and 70,000 cbm

The disposal of the Pemex fleet was completed this year in July with the sale of the 'Cantarell' 57,000 cbm 1980-built to the joint venture between General Ore and Solvang. It is interesting to point out that it was necessary for the sellers to organise several consecutive auctions (with at each time a reduced reserve price) before finally succeeding to sell the ship at US$ 9 million. Last year comparable units from the same fleet were able to obtain US$ 15 and 11 million.

  • 20,000 to 50,000 cbm carriers

Under the same conditions as described above, Pemex sold to the joint venture between Ultragas (Chili) and Solvang the 'Nuevo Laredo' 22,000 cbm 1978-built for US$ 6 million. Another possibility in this segment was illustrated by the decision taken by Spic (India) to quit the LPG market and to propose the 'Spic Diamond' 22,500 cbm 1991-built for sale at the beginning of the year. Once again Naftomar grabbed this opportunity and obtained the vessel at US$ 21.5 million.

  • 12,000 to 20,000 cbm carriers

Due to the fact that there is no real seller in this category, the result is the same one as the year before, with no sale being reported.

  • 3,000 to 12,000 cbm carriers

Contrary to last year, the second-hand pressurised tanker market did not see many sales, however semi-refrigerated and in particular recent ethylene carriers were able to benefit from improved market condition to change hands.

For example, at the beginning of the year Gaz Atlantique (France) succeeded in taking control of the 'Tarquin Glen' and 'Tarquin Grove' (same owners) 3,200 cbm 1991 and 1992-built, for close to US$ 18 million en bloc. A few months later, the same sellers parted with the ethylene carrier 'Tarquin Navigator' and 'Tarquin Rover' 7,000 cbm 1995-built for US$ 35 million en bloc passing to the control of Antony Veder.

At the same time Naftomar was selling for US$ 17.5 million their 7,500 cbm ethylene carrier 1994-built 'Pugliola' to Othelo International, who continued the charter party attached to the vessel.

At the end of the year Agip sold to other Italian owners the 'Agip Sardegna' 4,000 cbm 1992-built ethylene carrier with the 'Agip Syracusa' 3,000 cbm 1983-built pressurised type at a reported price of US$ 14.5 millions en bloc .

There are still a few potential sale candidates on the market which are all close to or in excess of 20 years old. We may wonder whether any of these will attract potential buyers in the future, as 'age' becomes more and more a sensitive subject.

Shipping and Shipbuilding Markets in 2000


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FORUM dello Shipping
e della Logistica
Relazione del presidente Daniele Rossi
Napoli, 30 settembre 2020
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- Via Raffaele Paolucci 17r/19r - 16129 Genova - ITALIA
tel.: 010.2462122, fax: 010.2516768, e-mail
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Registrazione Stampa 33/96 Tribunale di Genova
Direttore responsabile Bruno Bellio
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